FINLEY TURNS 2!!!

I am still in shock that I am actually writing this post. How in the world is my little tiny baby girl TWO YEARS OLD!?! When I held her in my arms in those first moments I had no idea of the intensity of love and absolute joy this little girl would bring us every day. She was and is the most incredible blessing to ever come into our lives. The last 2 years have been full of more happiness and emotion than I ever thought was possible and this little human has only made me grow as a person and as a mom. This year has flown by in a blink of an eye and I think I am still processing her first birthday let alone her second. I have decided that year one is all about survival and year two is about learning how to negotiate with a toddler version of yourself about 75x a day. Some days are tougher than others as the terrible two’s are in full swing but other days are some of my absolute favorites.

This year Finley has been learning to swim and grow more and more confident in the water. She is starting her first tumbling class tomorrow and is still SOOO active. She sleeps well at night but those day time naps are getting less and less reliable which is terrifying. She has a huge sweet tooth like her daddy and is gaining the toddler pickiness when it comes to eating. But she still loves beans and eggs. THANK GOD. She has almost all her teeth except those 2nd year molars are still working on her. She finally loves reading books with us and will FINALLY sit on our laps at night while we read. She is the chattiest kid and I love when she will say something new and Jeremy and I look at each other like where did she learn that. She is fiercely independent and being her mom is really an everyday adventure.

My favorite part of every birthday is obviously reflecting on ALL of the hundreds of photos I have taken over the year. Pictures are hit or miss these days, but I do have to say the less I expect the more amazing she does and I am able to bribe her with a little chocolate or her favorite show. ;) In total I have over 931 images (not including cell phone) from this year LOL!! I know I know its insanity. But I love them all. Here is a little recap of the last 12 months! Thanks for following along :)

BABY DEAN | NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER | STAFFORD, VIRGINIA

Meet Dean! The most handsome baby boy. I had an amazing time snuggling this little cutie pie for his newborn session. He slept the whole time and we got SO many amazing photos. He is turning into the most adorable little boy and I cannot wait to see him again this fall! Here are some of my favorites:

ELLIE IS ONE! | MILESTONE PHOTOGRAPHER | STAFFORD, VIRGINIA

Watching this gorgeous girl grow up has been so incredibly special to me. From being in her mama’s belly to her cake smash I have loved every session. I have loved seeing her hit every new milestones and become a gorgeous little girl. We went with a rose gold and cream color themed smash and it was PERFECT. Ellie was so polite as she enjoyed a few licks of frosting and gave us some great shots!! Ellie you are such a beauty and I cannot wait to see you again! Here are some of my favorites!!

BABY MILA | NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER | STAFFORD, VA

Meet Mila!! This adorable little nugget was an absolute dream newborn!! She slept the ENTIRE time and was suuuuper cuddly. She posed so well for her solo shots and was even cuter with her handsome big brother for their sibling shots! She is almost 6 months old and I cannot wait to see how she has grown and changed these last few months. BEST part of my job is watching these little miracles grow. Here are a few of my favorites:

TALA MATERNITY | MATERNITY PHOTOGRAPHER | MANASSAS, VIRGINIA

I had the absolute pleasure of photographing these cuties for their maternity session in Feb! Winter sessions can often be hit or miss with temps and foliage but we really lucked out for this one! It wasn’t crazy cold and the the light. OH MY GOODNESS the light! This session proves that even in the gloom of winter there is SO much beauty to be seen. I loved everything about these 2, their love, their excitement for this new adventure and also their willingness to get in the weeds with me ;) Here are a few of my favorites!!

BABY NIKO | NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER | STAFFORD, VIRGINIA

Everyone knows I adore newborn sessions. But sometimes you meet a family who lets you capture their entire love story. From photographing their gorgeous wedding to their life as fur parents I have seen their love grow in the most beautiful way. When Rachael emailed me that she was pregnant I started crying because nothing brings me more happiness than watching someone become a mom. These two made the transition into parenthood seem effortless. They are both naturals and born to be parents and their happiness seems to have tripled since the birth of their baby boy. It truly is amazing to watch. Not to mention baby Niko is the most adorable little dude. I am so incredibley happy for this gorgeous family and feel so lucky to have photographed them from the beginning! Here are some of my favorites:)

STRAWBERRY FIELDS | FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER | FREDERICKSBURG VIRGINIA

This Spring has been an absolute whirlwind! I am still processing my beginning of the year goals and here we are half way through 2019. Welcome to toddler mommy life and running your own business! bIt still blows my mind that we are in week 2 of June. This weekend I thankfully blocked some time off so I could catch my breathe from what has been my craziest year to date. This year has already far exceeded my expectations for 2019 and I am just so eager to see what the rest of the year has in store. However, that MUCH needed refresh was an amazing way to catch up on some personal sessions that I have been dying to edit. One being our strawberry picking day!! I honestly don't even remember when we went but we had the most gorgeous breezy and overcast day, perfect for crazy photog mom to snap some shots while picking those yummy strawberries. We got to hang out with 2 of our favorite girls and we had an absolute blast! Last year I missed strawberry season and thankfully this year my friend was on top of it otherwise I would have missed it again! I am so excited about these photos!! And I hope you love them too! <3

National Infertility Awareness Week

Did you know that 1 in 8 couples will have difficulty conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy? That statistic is HUGE and a statistic that has drastically affected my life. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and I wanted to take a minute to share a little bit about what this week means to me. I have rewritten what I wanted to say or share about 4 different times because this topic can be really tough for me. And as open as I have tried to be it has seriously impacted my life and my marriage and is still very much a struggle we continue to face.

This year feels very different to me and my feelings about our own infertility journey have really changed over the years. Last year we were riding the high of the birth of our little girl and felt like this was just the beginning of FINALLY having answers and being able to build our family. We had a long and hard road before finally starting IVF, but we had success with it! Success followed by a very incredible and smooth pregnancy. And all of that pain from an infertility diagnosis in 2014, to where we were now seemed to disappear the second I looked into Finley’s eyes for the first time.

It was the first time I openly talked about our struggle to get pregnant. It is also a lot easier to share about something difficult after you finally make it through the darkness. But our baby journey doesn’t end there. We still want a bigger family and there was no doubt in my mind that when the tug to build our family came back, that our results wouldn't be anything less than successful. It worked before, why wouldn't it work this time? What I wasn't prepared for was how to cope with a failure. Or how to accept the intense feelings of guilt and disappointment in myself like maybe I did something wrong, or ate something I shouldn't have, or didn't prepare enough, or didn’t get healthy enough this time around. I was also not prepared for all of those painful memories and emotions and doubt that I thought I had overcome suddenly resurface again. But this time throw in the feelings of shame because well we have such a blessing with Finley and how dare I be so greedy that I want another kid. This may sound crazy, but I cannot even count the times I have been told “at least you have Finley". Hearing this is like a punch in the gut because of course I am thankful for her every single day. But that doesn’t take away my pain or hope for her to experience a sibling and it certainly doesn’t make the disappointment of feeling like your body failed you any easier. It also doesn’t take away the giant pile of cash we just threw into the fire with nothing but anger and sadness to show for it.

There are so many tough conversations I have had play over and over in my head and for the first month after our attempt I really didn’t want to be around anyone. I was angry, and upset, and really just felt extremely resentful of the fact we had to deal with this all over again. I was never worried about adding another kid to our family, but now what if that doesn’t happen? How do I find peace in that and how do I become ok with that? Then of course you wonder how your spouse feels about it all. Because it wasn’t something that only affects me, he too is emotionally invested in this. I really tried to push away the things I was feeling because I wasn’t ready to answer these questions. All I wanted to do was hug Jeremy and Finley and cry and feel sorry for myself.

And I did that. For weeks. I had too, I had to let it out so I could move forward. Because one thing I have learned about being forced to deal with infertility is that this is not something I want to let consume my life anymore. For so long I lived and breathed the pain and anxiety of that diagnosis and it put our marriage into some of its darkest days. I felt like we paused our life and forgot what it was like to enjoy the little things. Jeremy and I have worked so incredibly hard on building up our marriage to a place where we can tackle any serious life event and only grow closer. We hit rock bottom emotionally in those early years of every month not getting pregnant and it sucked. I truly believe infertility has the ability to make your marriage or end it. And we made a choice and promise a long time ago to fight to the bitter end for each other and to choose each other every single day regardless of what we go through. So being the most incredible partner he is, he hugged me, bought me some champagne, and told me it was going to be ok. And we would get through this like we have gotten through everything else that has come before it. We have come so far together as a team and I needed to find a way to make peace with this failure inside myself so I that I could push on and be stronger for my daughter and for my husband.

So how did I snap out of this sadness? The first thing I did was join a Resolve Support group. And i took the toughest step of actually going to a meeting. I needed a place where I could cry and talk about how I was feeling but among people who understood the toll this road can take on you. From this group I connected with others who share in this pain of building their family but more importantly I found a group that understood what I was going through it because they too are in the thick of it with me.

I also really started journaling and when I get negative I have tried to turn each thing into a positive. Jeremy and I have been through some really tough life events in the last 8 years of marriage and I am trying really hard to focus on the positive that came from every single one of those things. Because I refuse to believe it’s all just random back luck. This exercise has really changed my mental well being and really made me feel much better about things not always working out the way you think they should. I have been able to unload a little baggage and most of the heartbreak so I can move forward and continue living.

I also threw myself into my business. I work my butt off every single day but I really just needed to be around clients who shared in this joy of celebrating their family. From day one that has been the most amazing way to cope with infertility. Some say I am crazy to focus on maternity and newborn because it’s a constant reminder of my struggle but honestly it just makes it that much more special for me to document. Because I know how priceless every photo I have taken of my family is and to give someone that gift is the greatest feeling of all. It is also the thing that brings me so much joy and inner peace. And every once in awhile I meet a mom and dad who also had their own infertility struggle and whether we have more kids or not I feel so incredibly lucky to continue to meet people who fought their fight to build their family in the way that was meant for them.

So during this week I ask everyone who may not directly be affected by infertility to take a minute and learn a little bit about it. Here is a great resource to gain a little understanding. Because the more infertility is talked about the more it doesn’t seem so terrifying or feel so shameful. It’s a road that is hard and looks so different to every person it affects and it should not be fought alone! And If you are someone who is dealing with this I would love to hear your story. Because you are not alone and I promise you will get through this.

~Laura

Finley on her 2nd transfer anniversary.  Was during our 2 week wait and is my reminder that everything will be ok :)

Finley on her 2nd transfer anniversary. Was during our 2 week wait and is my reminder that everything will be ok :)

NICOLE MATERNITY | MATERNITY PHOTOGRAPHER | MANASSAS, VIRGINIA

Every January I feel so refreshed from the holidays and excited to see what kind of sessions the new year will bring. That first session always has high expectations because you’ve taken a little shooting breather and just dying to get back out there and create. WELL. This year certainly started off better than I could have imagined.

We had originally planned this session in December but with her hubby’s deployment schedule we needed to push it until after the 1st. When we made the switch she asked if I thought it could snow. I knew it was possible but the weather was so crazy in 2018 I didn’t think it was going to happen. I never know what crazy ideas the weather has up it’s sleeve. In sticking with that crazy Virginia weather, not only was our original weekend a rainy mess, but our new date brought us SNOW!! I couldn’t believe it. Like no joke started snowing as I was driving to the session. It was incredible. It was pretty freezing but these 3 were such troopers and we got some of my favorite shots of all time!! Take a look at my favorites!

GOOCH FAMILY VACAY 2019

Jeremy and I have been vacationing to the OBX almost every year since we got married. We got married in Kitty Hawk and whenever we need to unwind and relax it really is the only place that makes sense for us. There is something about the salt air and the sound of crashing waves that really seems to rejuvenate us.

This was our second vacation as a family of 3 plus 2 pups and was by far one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. We stayed in a pet friendly VRBO right on the water and spent 4 nights. Every day we were on the beach for hours walking up and down searching for purples (smooth purple shell pieces) and sea glass which is a tradition we started before we were married. Fin LOVED hunting for shells and exploring, and was mesmerized by the surfers. She even got upset when they crashed! The most amazing part of our trip was watching Finley embrace the beach life and fall in love with it as much as Jeremy and I have over the years. Overall our trip was one of my favorite vacations and cannot wait to go back! There is so much I could share about it but I would rather share some of our photos!! Below are a TON of my favorites :) Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!!